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Kelly Pedrick

This wreath, laid against the flag pole, is an essential piece to honor the lives lost in this tragic incident.

Valley’s 9/11 Ceremony

September 15, 2020

On September 11th, 2001, two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Tower, resulting in nearly 3,000 deaths. 19 years later, Valley still holds a ceremony to honor the lives lost that tragic day.

Principal Esparza stands next to Superintendent Jara before the ceremony. (Kelly Pedrick)

“The main goal of the ceremony is to remember those lives lost on that tragic day and to honor their memory,” Battalion Commander Walter Snodgrass said.

Valley’s JROTC organizes an annual ceremony to honor the lives lost in the tragic event. In previous years, the Battalion Commander would present the flag and raise it to half staff. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony had to be modified to fit the new normal.

“Even though the cadets and students will not be there, the colors will still be raised and set at half mast,” Snodgrass said. “It will take place at the front flag pole, then moved into the small theater and a recording will play of the ceremony JROTC conducted in 2015.”

Valley’s administration was in attendance for the event. Despite being masked up and socially distanced, the ceremony brought the staff together as a wreath, a symbolic piece used to honor the lives lost, was laid against the flagpole.

The JROTC cadet staff who could not be there in attendance were there in spirit through cardboard cutouts. (Kelly Pedrick)

“Ceremonies like the one held at Valley High School are always a time to reflect on a day that changed this country and the world. It is a time to remember all of those who tragically died at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Flights 11, 93, 77 and 175,” Superintendent Jesus Jara said. “I was honored to attend the event at Valley High School with the dedicated staff and administration who are working to ensure our students are connected to history.”

As the ceremony moved from the flagpole, Valley’s administration was welcomed by their JROTC Cadet staff, who were instrumental in setting up the ceremony, in cardboard cut-out form. Even though they could not be there in person, their hard work and dedication to planning the event was felt throughout the ceremony, continuing the annual Valley tradition.

“Despite our JROTC cadets not being physically present, I am beyond thankful that the tradition was carried on by Sergeant White, Sergeant Amos, and Chief White. Each year, I look out at the dedicated, focused faces of the cadets and their leaders, and it gives me goosebumps. I missed feeling the presence of Viking students this year, but the video recording allowed me to take in the sight that is a cherished tradition,” history teacher Sara Hupp said.

Chief Warrant Officer White (left) and Sergeant Vild (right) stand around the wreath. (Kelly Pedrick)

While the ceremony may have not been the most traditional one, Valley administration and the JROTC cadets never let up on honoring the lives lost on that tragic day. The day will echo in every American’s hearts as the day that we all came together, trying to get through the shock of it all. May we never forget the day, but also may we never forget that nothing can break the American spirit.

“After all,” Hupp said, “as those rows of cadets show, Valley Vikings represent the best of our country; hard work, respect, and resilience are the Viking way, and those are the same qualities that our nation united around following September 11, 2001.”

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